Industrial wind turbines affects everyone in Ontario. That is the key message a citizen’s group delivered to roughly 300 people in attendance at Smithville Covenant Christian School Thursday night.
“Just because you don’t live in West Lincoln, doesn’t mean it won’t affect you,” said Deb Murphy, a Dunnville resident who is vice president of the West Lincoln Glanbrook Wind Action Group. “There is a misconception that if you don’t live near them, they won’t affect you. It doesn’t matter if you live 550 metres from one or 550 miles. If you live in Ontario, they do so affect you.”
The information meeting held by WLGWAG was meant to target those living at a distance from the existing and proposed industrial wind turbines in West Lincoln. The group had hoped to attract residents from nearby Grimsby and Lincoln.
“We can see the ones in Caistor from our place, and they are the small ones,” said Grassie resident Cindy Poziomka, whose children and grandchildren live in Smithville. “I’m worried about the affects of children. Some of them are so close to Leisureplex. How can they put them so close?”
Cindy said she has not been following the battle between local residents and the corporations erecting the 80- and 140-metre high turbines. Her husband Rick, however, has been. Thursday’s meeting was the second one he attended. He said though the turbines won’t affect him at home, they will affect him in his pocket book.
“They won’t go near where we live because of flight paths, but it just doesn’t make sense to put them up anyway,” said Rick. “I’m not in favour of them for many reasons. The main reason being the effect on real estate. Some people are making tonnes of money at the expense of their neigbhour.”
The Posiomkas say they have seen how the issue has divided the township.
“You have kids on hockey teams who are fighting because one of them is getting a wind turbine,” said Cindy. “It’s divided the town.”
Members of the wind action group spoke on the many ways industrial wind turbines affect more than those who live near them.
Catherine Mitchell was given the difficult task of demonstrating the “true cost of industrial wind turbines.” While some will be directly affected by a hit to their property value (according to Mitchell’s research, property values in the Huron area fell between 25 and 60 per cent with the onslaught of wind turbines), all of Ontario will pay for it through the province’s costly Feed-in-Tariff program.
“Installed or in the que to be approved are 6,736 wind turbines,” said Mitchell. “Ontario will look like a pin cushion and we will not be able to afford to keep the lights on.”
Using a calculation of megawatts x operating efficiency x hours per year x cost, Mitchell said industrial wind turbines will cost more than $58.7 million a year in subsidies in the Niagara region alone. Over the 20-year span of the provincial contracts, that number totals more than $1.17 billion, she said.
“Who do you think is going to pay that bill,” Mitchell said as a warning to those in attendance.
Eric Ames, communications director for the Family Coalition Party, said the question Ontarians, including those awarded FIT contracts, failed to ask in the early days of the Green Energy Act was where is the money coming from.
Corporations and individuals with FIT contracts are guaranteed a set rate per kilowatt hour.
“Where does that money come from? From you and me,” said Ames, who attended Thursday’s meeting not to sway voters but to help spread the message of how these turbines will affect everyone in Ontario. “They were given contracts with the expectation that taxpayers would pay for this.
“If we continue down this road, we will all lose,” he said. “It affects everyone in this province.”
Another hidden cost of the Green Energy Act, Mitchell explained, is lawsuits. Anne Fairfield and Ed Engel know all about that. The West Lincoln couple is fighting IPC Energy’s HAF Wind Project, even as all five turbines stand a short distance from their home.
“Just to get this far, our legal bill was over $25,000,” said Fairfield. “This was paid by donations. It is going to take all of this community’s financial contributions to fight this problem and have a successful end.”
Engel and Fairfield are waiting on the outcome of several Charter of Rights and Freedoms challenges being heard across the province. These cases challenge the constitutionality of the Green Energy Act and its siting of industrial wind turbines.
“Your health, your safety, your wealth, your environment and this community are worth protecting now,” she said. “Help us to do this job for you.”
The crowd also heard from Mothers Against Wind Turbines chair Marianne Kidd about the impacts of turbines on children, Loretta Shields on the impacts to environment, Mary Kovacs on the dangers of transmission lines and Sidney Thompson on the loss of democratic rights.
West Lincoln mayor Doug Joyner attended the meeting for more than a show of support to his constituents.
“I’ve always said, knowledge is power,” said Joyner. “I am here to support the residents of West Lincoln and Wainfleet, but the biggest reason I am here is to have better information on this.”
The mayor and council have heard from several of Thursday’s speakers in council chambers over the past three years.